Time/Era: WWII (1944) - Finland
I actually learned quite a bit from this commission, as I was rather confused by the reference pictures at first.
Why was a Finnish soldier in a Nazi tank? I didn't think Finland was a part of the Axis powers/alliance...
Well... I know I'm not the only one who's guilty of initially thinking that the swastika (especially when on a tank) is immediately equal to Nazi Germany, but that is not entirely true in this case. Anyone who knows anything about the history of the swastika,(especially those in the eastern hemisphere where it originated) knows that it actually has a long history of being a symbol for good luck (among other things). Soldiers in general would often wear symbols such as this or paint it on their vehicles/aircraft/etc:
"Von Rosen had painted his personal good luck charm on the Thulin Typ D aircraft. This charm – a blue swastika, the ancient symbol of the sun and good luck – was adopted as the insignia of the Finnish Air Force. The white circular background was created when the Finns tried to paint over the advertisement from the Thulin air academy. The swastika was officially taken into use after an order by Mannerheim on 18 March 1918. The FAF changed the insignia after 1944, due to an Allied Control Commission decree prohibiting the existence of Pro-Hitler and Fascism organizations. The swastika was removed due to the resemblance to the Nazi Swastika."
Which is all well and good, but even so I still had questions.
It became very obvious very quickly that during the "Winter War" (1939-1940) that Finland was at war with Soviet Russia, who was intent on taking Finland as their own in order to have 'buffer states' around it's borders (this was in accordance with an agreement Soviet Russia made with Germany to divide Europe between the two powers).
At the end of the Winter War, Finland had lost a bit of ground and was suffering from a severe lack of grain, and when the tides of war began hinting that Germany and the Soviet Union were not getting along, Finland made a bit to Germany for support. Hitler himself agreed to send grain to Finland and (secretly at first ) sold them weapons... such as thirty Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G assault guns* which is pictured here and was one of the photos I was initially sent as reference. Thus, with the German invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa), so started the Finnish Continuation War (1941-1944) where:
"Finland adopted the concept of a "parallel war" whereby it sought to pursue its own objectives in concert with, but separate from, Nazi Germany, as "co-belligerents"."
There's actually a number of interesting facts in those two articles alone, so if you're at all interested in the subject I do recommend the read. I certainly can't sum up all of the events and intricacies in this little box lol
Here's another interesting resource I dug up:
Kev Ops 4 - Wartime Photos
*(not tanks as they had no rotating turret, but this enabled a lower profile and more powerful gun - this was better for defence but a severe disadvantage for offence)